by Howard and Jeanne Tomlinson


Meeting That Special Someone

“I’m never going to get married!”  Howie moaned as he poured out his heart to his friend Ken.  He had faced disappointments in dating relationships in the past and was insecure about trying again.  He had no idea what was just around the corner.

In June, ’84, three years after his accident, Howie returned to New York when his father offered him a job with the Long Island Railroad where he had worked years earlier.  He lived with his folks, and played trumpet with his friend Marcus at Calvary Baptist Church in New York City.
    Two years later, Howie visited his friend Ken during his vacation to southern California.  After hearing Howie’s frustrations about dating, Ken encouraged him to pray about it.  Howie got on his knees that night and pleaded: “Lord, if you want me to get married, please send me the right woman soon.”  The next night Ken invited Howie to come with him to West Valley Bible Study, a weekly study for singles.
    Afterwards, several guys and girls went to Coco's, a local coffee shop.  Howie sat with Ken and his girlfriend, Debby.  On Howie’s right sat Jeanne.  She smiled and laughed as Howie and Ken kidded around.  Later Jeanne and Howie started talking together and soon felt like they were the only two in the restaurant.  When he walked Jeanne out to her car, he felt so right with her.  But he also felt frustrated, knowing he would be flying back to New York in two days!
    A couple of months later, Howie worked up the nerve to write Jeanne a letter.  She responded by saying, “I came home from work feeling down and there was your letter.  It really lifted me up!”  Later, Howie decided to be honest and share with Jeanne a physical problem he had since his accident.  He was fearful she might call off the relationship, but she told him not to worry about it.  Their romance blossomed as they corresponded and visited each other for the next year and a half.  They finally realized it was time for Jeanne to move when Howie’s monthly phone bill exceeded $300.  She drove from California to New York with her friend Janice in August, 1987, and moved in with an elderly Christian couple.
    By the way, I’m Jeanne!  I grew up in a wonderful Christian home in southern California.  My father led me to the Lord when I was 12, and my parents taught me the joy of serving the Lord at their Christian youth center.  I have many fond memories of growing up on the ranch – swimming, riding horses, going on backpacking trips with the Ranger club, and teaching children’s clubs.  Following graduation from a Christian college, I taught primary grades in Christian schools, including kindergarten at my mother’s preschool, and also directed the day camp at the ranch.
    Even though I grew up happy and sheltered, as an adult I was deeply hurt by someone I trusted.  Not wanting to go through the same heartache again, I sought to get to know the Lord better and develop friendships with people who had godly character.  In the early 1980’s, I spent a couple of years poring over the Bible, verse by verse, to better understand God’s character.  I was especially blessed while reading numerous verses on His love, mercy, and grace.
    I joined Grace Community Church, pastored by John MacArthur, and began ministering to the single women at West Valley Bible Study.  We women shared many things in common, including the desire to meet a wonderful man and get married.  I was in my 30’s at the time and felt my biological clock ticking away.  When I met Howie that January night, I didn’t think of him as a prospective husband, but did enjoy being with him.  I thought he was funny and his accent was cute.  I noticed that he didn’t try to be phony or “cool,” but seemed to be real with a sincere interest in the things of the Lord.  I felt sad when he flew back to New York but was excited when he began writing me.  As our romance blossomed, I started realizing that he might be “the one.”  When he asked me to move to New York, I hesitated at first, for my family and friends were in California and I had a great job at Focus on the Family.  But one of us had to make the move.  So after praying about it, I packed my bags and took off for New York.
    Howie often tells people that we met “by grace.”  That’s true!  On that night in the coffee shop, we had just come from a Grace Bible Study and were discussing the book Grace by Lewis Sperry Chafer.  We were both fascinated by the subject of God’s goodness and unmerited favor.  When He died on the cross, Christ “paid a debt He did not owe, because we owed a debt we could not pay.”  We had both experienced God’s grace when He saved us from our sins and guided and helped us in our daily lives.  In His grace, He also brought us together.  We didn’t realize it then, but we would see even greater evidences of God’s amazing grace in our lives in the future.

Many singles feel lonely and frustrated by the seeming lack of potential dating partners, especially as they get older.  The best way to find the right person is to be the right one.  Those who want God’s best should spend much time with the Lord, pray for His will, develop their character, and surround themselves with godly people.  God will take care of the rest.

For Those Who Hurt

You may be a single struggling with loneliness.  This is a normal emotion for God Himself said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).  You can learn to be content if you make your relationship with God your priority.  Give your burden to Him and leave the results in His hands, for He knows what’s best for you!  If it’s God’s will for you to marry, He will bring someone along at just the right time.  It may even be someone who lives across the country!  No matter what happens, you can rejoice knowing that God’s amazing grace will be sufficient for you.



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Chapter 3: The Impact of Example Table of Contents Chapter 5: A Solid Foundation for Marriage